According to the article, which is based on new data from the Paris-based International Energy Agency, “…China devoured a total of 2,252 million tons of oil equivalent last year, or about 4% more than the U.S., which burned through 2,170 million tons of oil equivalent. The oil-equivalent metric represents all forms of energy consumed, including crude oil, nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable sources such as hydropower.”
Anyone who’s surprised by this has to be living in a bubble. We knew it was coming, eventually. You can’t have 1.3 billion people in a country with an economy growing at over 8% and not expect it to overtake everyone else with respect to energy consumption at some point, real soon.
Notice I say 1.3 billion, like many others I just throw it out there, as a rough guide, but according to the CIA (and I guess they’d know) it’s actually 1,330,141,295 (July 2010). But hey, what’s 30.14 million here or there, right? It’s still big. Really big, which offsets its relatively low population growth rate of 0.5%.
This is why the comments to that same WSJ article are a bit off point. The highly informed readers debate whether energy use should be measured in terms of GDP or on a per-capita basis. It's kind of like standing next to a tall building that's falling on your and debating whether its height should be measured relative to ground or sea level.
Maybe those metrics are more useful for the bean counters, but the article’s point was that a milestone was reached, in this case using the oil equivalent metric. And that’s worth noting.
It’s also worth noting that China is very much aware of its growing energy needs and as early as 2005, it enacted a very aggressive Renewable Energy Law.
While the U.S. sets up debates, councils, task groups, focus groups and special panels, China is pursuing the intent of that law with the same vigor and focus as it does with everything else. And it shows.
According to a new report by the same International Energy Agency, China's efforts are bearing fruit, to the extent that in 2009, “China added 37 GW of renewable power capacity, more than any other country in the world, to reach 226 GW of total renewables capacity. Globally, nearly 80 GW of renewable capacity was added, including 31 GW of hydro and 48 GW of non-hydro capacity.”
Again, it’s all stats and they can be played any which way, but it’s still interesting how fast a focused effort can impact the energy conundrum -- and how a headline or one side of a story can paint a bleaker or more negative impression than necessary.
A couple of points:
One, the statistics not only reflect how the 1.3 B Chinese have grown but also how the 350 M americans abuse energy. With four times the population, China deserves to consume but what is America's excuse for such guzzling?
Secondly, indeed non renewable energy should be considered seriously, and it is easier for developing nations, with lesser vested interests in conventional forms, to take the lead. One particular project as part of the Indian initiative, aims to have 1100 MW grid connected solar power by 2013 and 20,000 MW in the next 12 years.
The International Energy Agency, which supplied the data used in this article, also put out release stating that nuclear power can be "a key contributor to combating climate change." I don't know about climates changing, but expansion of nuclear-generated power might be a good option.
I am feeling EE times is getting all 2 much on this forum type of stuffs.
I bet some of the editors are going to get axed.
we are going to see less original articles and more users 'comments'
this is low carbon style, absolutely.
An important factor that needs to be regarded here is that industrial manufacturing is a major energy consumer. And China manufactures much of the goods we and the rest of the world consumes. If we manufactured these goods ourselves our energy consumption would invariably be higher. A big export economy like China or Germany is bound to be a big energy consumer. We can demand they reduce energy use, but at the same time the goods we want aren't going to self-assemble out of thin air. This is why energy accounting needs to follow goods and capital over national borders. Who is the biggest consumer?
It will be even more interesting to see China weens itself off coal as its main energy source for factories, lest the resultant overabundant carbon dioxide starts eating away at their and our own way of life. Already clouds of coal dust are reported to be moving over the Pacific and settling on U.S. soil and water. Being the most in something that's spiraling out of control is not a statistic to be proud of.
As statistics go, agreed, it's definitely of interest. But my question, a few seconds after finishing the article, is "what does it mean?" (The statistic, not the article.) As pointed out, 1.3 billion people and their infrastructure are going to use more energy than 350 million people as the 1.3 billion charge up the manufacturing ladder. A bright note: the use of renewable energy sources, to my mind much overrated as a general panacea for dependence on fossil fuels, is generally a good thing. Particularly in so far that in a developing industrial state, far fewer entrenched interests must be displaced to utilize a new energy source as opposed to the morass of interests one must deal with in Europe or the US. If nothing else, it will be useful and instructive to see just how China solves the problems of merging the renewable and unrenewable sources effectively.
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